Ken Forrester, the King of Chenin, missed his calling. He could have been a contender. He could have been Joel Gray, the debauched Berlin night club MC in Cabaret or Jim Broadbent playing the impresario Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge. At a two hour tasting of nine wines in his 1694 Scholtzenhof Cape Dutch Manor House yesterday, Ken kept the prickly cohort of Cape wine hacks enthralled for two hours with a “yesterday, today and tomorrow” performance. The showbiz shirt (below) was blue crushed velour/velveteen and the schtick the slickest this side of the Reciprocal Wine Trading Companywhen it was located in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, in the days when SA drank Romanée-Conti from a good vintage for R4.5 a bottle.
And feasted on prawn cocktails like the one below, with special pienksauce. Romanée-Conti may very well be available on the 400 item 96 Winery Road wine list but I’d settle for the Ken Forrester 2007 Sauvignon Blanc showing almost Riesling-like turpenes and pyrazines.
Oh do come back Glenda Kemp and bring your python with. Save us from rip-off importers and generic marketers, full of passionate intensity. Yesterday’s lunch menu in full (below). Read it and weap.
Dana Buys (below, left, with a slipped halo) lived his first life as an IT mogul, so it makes sense that his approach to making fine wine should be a scientific one. Which means rigorous testing and benchmarks implemented as blind tasting your wines against the competition. So on Monday afternoon Hein Koegelenberg from La Motte, Nico Vermeulen who consults to many wineries including biodynamic producer Wedderwill and the pair of ladies (Susan and Ansoné) who make wine at V&L tasted a selection of Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs at Vrede en Lust in Franschhoek.
Judging 20 Blanc de Blancs, 18 Rosés, 31 Blends (9 non-vintage) and 6 Museum (older than 2007) MCCs at L’Avenir today confirms that SA bubbly continues to make huge improvements in quality. My money is on an older blend winning the victor’s laurels, but if museum exhibits could win, the oldest entry would walk it by unanimous consensus from the five judges: two winemakers, one sommelier and two journos chaired (with the lightest of touches) by Allan Mullins. The venue may have looked like the day after the wedding, but the bubbles soon had us in a festive frame of mind.
The dozen novels longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize contains a bombshell for SA wine. For the case of books contains a searing indictment of the life of a slave on a Franschhoek wine farm less than two centuries ago. How ironic that Franschhoek, home to SA’s major literary festival, should have an international spotlight trained on its dark and violent past in this way.
Yesterday’s Elsenburg Auction to send the final year winemaking class to France as a cure for cellar palate was saved from poverty almost single handedly by Mbazima Shilowa (below) who opened his capacious wallet and paid up for lots of lots. If politics doesn’t work out for Mbazima, the wine industry should welcome this giant with open arms. Did anyone say head of WOSA?
While the Cape gears up for Jörg Pfützner’s Big Bottle boogaloo at the Cellars Hohenort on Friday night, Mr. Meat aka Alan Pick has stolen a march by hosting a lunchtime auction tomorrow to send the final year of Elsenberg wine making students to France to see what all the fuss is around French vin.
The auction catalogue (below) is stellar and arguably the best ever offered in SA this millennium. So to all those banksters who missed out on Quoin Rock and hipsters not yet retired to Hermanus, hurry to the Butcher’s Shop & Grill tomorrow lunchtime for some Wagu steaks and a chance at vinous immortality and the best wine south of Beaune.
Holding up the bar this morning at Clarke’s on Bree, as is my breakfast want, waiting for Pieter Cronje to deliver some Palesa Fairtrade wine for a food/wine matching guide I’m writing, I was handed an invitation to a performance of the Palissander chamber choir by an ethereal chorister, drumming up an audience. The gig was scheduled for St. George’s Cathedral at 12h30. Palesa & Palissander, sounding like something by Henry Purcell, I submitted to the great god of synchronicity and went.
James Borland, beverage guru from the Taj Hotel, summed up the Bosman Fairtrade Cabernet 2011 called De Bos, launched yesterday at The Potluck Club in the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock as “a young princess.” I was in a princess sandwich between De Bos winemaker Corlea Fourie (below) on my right and FairtradeSA’s Arianna Baldo (below Corlea). Very rarely have the situational variables been so royal! I felt like Prince Harry, even if I was wearing clothes.